Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Escape or Endure?

Rarely has so true a Scripture been depicted so falsely

The question before every human being on the face of the planet, to which God has already given answer, is this: Escape or Endure?

No trial has overtaken you that is not distinctively human; and God is faithful; he will not let you be tested beyond what you can bear, but with the trial will also provide the way through, so that you will be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13

This is from the Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament. I love the way it phrases this, because this is one situation where many English translations fail miserably. Let me give you an example or two of this:

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. ~NKJV
The only temptation that has come to you is that which everyone has. But you can trust God, who will not permit you to be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, he will also give you a way to escape so that you will be able to stand it. ~NCV

The original text actually says that God will provide "ekbasis," or a route out. This Greek word is a combination of "ek" or "ex" meaning "point of origin; where action begins" and "basis" meaning "to walk; foot pace." Literally, it is stating that God will provide a route through the hardship. Not an escape, as if God was going to snap His fingers and remove you from the situation you're dealing with; rather, an escape route- A path to follow by which to exit hardship.

Readers confuse themselves on whether to escape or endure

The second point of issue with English translations, to a minor degree, and much more with the very READERS themselves, is the less than regular emphasis on the latter portion of this Scripture. Everyone loves the idea that God doesn't give us more than we can handle; still more people are very happy with the fact that God will just speak and *boom* - Our trials are over. The problem is that one section at the end which reads "so that you will be able to endure it."

Oops. If that remains there, then the verse as a whole can't mean that God's going to magically remove us from our individual struggles. So as a result, very few actually pay attention to that section... And as a result of that, we have some translations pandering to the itching ears. For instance:

There hath none other temptation taken you, but such as followeth the nature of man. God is faithful, which shall not suffer you to be tempted above your strength: but shall in the midst of the temptation make a way to escape out. ~2004 edition of the William Tyndale New Testament

You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations. ~Contemporary English Version

We’re all tempted to do so, but God is more than willing to help us follow God’s advice. ~Better Life Bible

A lot of you have heard me rail against the BLB, saying it should not even be considered a Bible, and this last quote is offered as further evidence of this.  However, even it is closer in truth at the last than the previous two.  You see, God is willing to help us follow His law (not advice) and His ways.  He is rarely willing to remove us from those situations wherein we are required to choose whether to follow Him or succumb to the world.

This is why the Mounce is so excellent in this regard- Not only did it handle the issue of the way through the temptation correctly, but it also makes certain to emphasize the fact that the answer to the escape or endure question is the endurance of the trial.  Ironically, for all the hard words and accusations that our modern translations get, one of the most maligned got it dead on accurate.

There isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, he will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape.        ~God's Word Version

Final thoughts on whether to escape or endure

Oftentimes, we as humans are so caught up in our daily lives that we read our Bibles when we should be
soaking in them. We simply give our Scripture of the day a quick read, and do not take the time necessary to pray and meditate on what it means.  If we took the time necessary, it would be obvious to most what this Scripture is saying right from the start.

In closing, let me reiterate this simply:

God tests us. He will not allow us to be so assaulted that we cannot stand our ground.  In every test, no matter how hard it gets, we can rest assured that He's already prepared our exit, and the path to get there.  He will rarely pluck us out of the hard times; but He will strengthen and encourage us so that we are able stand firm as long as we trust in Him- And THAT is our way out... Endurance.

Grace and peace be with you as you endure!